Imagine this, you’ve done a major update to your business website in order to stay current in your industry and to attract more traffic: new and more trendy design, better interface, more functionalities, etc. It’s beautiful and functional.
However, today, as you check the mail, you receive a threatening letter stating that your website is not accessible to all, therefore you’ve violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and that if you don’t take immediate action you will be sued for monetary compensation.
Uhm, Say what?
For many business owners this is something they had not heard before. But, as you research more, you will learn that many websites are not accessible to everybody and this is costing businesses like yours between $10,000-$100,000+ in lawsuits.
If your business has not yet been sued, the cost of compliance is pretty small if you compare it to the cost of a lawsuit. So, whether you are about to build a new website or already have a website, you can avoid an unnecessary and costly expense by taking immediate steps by providing equal access to your goods services or information.
As more services and products have been moved to a digital format the need to help ensure that everyone can access them has increased. Unfortunately, most websites fail to meet accessibility goals causing more barriers to communicate and interact with people who have disabilities and face navigation challenges in the physical world. You can use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as a guide to understand and implement remediation for your current or future website.
Title III of the ADA refers to public accommodations. It guarantees that individuals with disabilities are offered the full and equal enjoyment of the “goods services facilities privileges advantages or accommodations” offered by a place of public accommodation.
As the internet is a place where goods services and information are exchanged the law has been interpreted to include it under Title III.
Where do I start?
Whether you want to avoid a lawsuit or are attempting to navigate through one, the first instinct will be to search for options online that will help you fix the issue. Like any online search, you'll find several options that claim to be the experts in website accessibility, but which organization is the right option for you? You need something easy, affordable and fast from a reputable organization. Your consultant should:
- Perform an Audit
- If you have an existing website, getting an audit will help discern how much work should be invested in remediating the issue or if it makes more sense to rebuild the website with a complete ADA compliant mindset
- The audit will also allow your consultant to 2.0 to guide your website administrators to create content that is “perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust” for people with disabilities
- Make sure your consultant is using a good and reputable accessibility auditing software to identify and recommend fixes for accessibility issues on your websites
- Start with the simple things
- Attaining full compliance on an already built website can be a long process, but there are easy steps that can be taken to help achieve and maintain accessibility, your consultant should be able to guide through it
- Your priority should be your home page and other critical high- traffic areas of your website
- Accessibility Statement – Placing a statement on your website that says you are aware of accessibility issues and will continue to work on them can help mitigate potential lawsuits
Website accessibility lawsuits show no signs of declining. In fact, the past couple of years have seen an increase and these first half of the year has not been immune to it. The issue is so hot now that even New York lawmakers plan to officially address website accessibility, which would be the first time that a U.S. government body is attempting to create regulation regarding web accessibility.
In the meantime, this will continue to be a grey topic because, although the Congress has not created standards for defendants to follow, The Judicial System has been awarding victories to plaintiffs base on the WCAG Guidelines.
Web Accessibility is a tricky subject to navigate and understand, but you should not wait to get served to take action. Be proactive before you’re faced with a lawsuit, contact Kulture Konnect today to help mitigate the risk.